Be Kind – And Do It Now!

“My heartfelt wish for you:  As you get older –  your self will diminish and you will grow in love.  YOU will gradually be replaced by LOVE . . .  Since, according to me, your life is going to be a gradual process of becoming kinder and more loving:  Hurry up.  Speed it along.  Start right now.”

– George Saunders


I read a commencement speech today that moved me hugely.  My friend, Jayne showed it to me.  Thank you Jayne!

This commencement speech by George Saunders has simple advice to the graduating Class of 2013 of Syracuse University: Be kinder, and do it now.  This speech moved me hugely, in a lot of ways. But the biggest impact it had on me was the first story he told, about what he regretted:

“But here’s something I do regret:

In seventh grade, this new kid joined our class.  In the interest of confidentiality, her Convocation Speech name will be “ELLEN.”  ELLEN was small, shy.  She wore these blue cat’s-eye glasses that, at the time, only old ladies wore.  When nervous, which was pretty much always, she had a habit of taking a strand of hair into her mouth and chewing on it.

So she came to our school and our neighborhood, and was mostly ignored, occasionally teased (“Your hair taste good?” – that sort of thing).  I could see this hurt her.  I still remember the way she’d look after such an insult: eyes cast down, a little gut-kicked, as if, having just been reminded of her place in things, she was trying, as much as possible, to disappear.  After awhile she’d drift away, hair-strand still in her mouth.  At home, I imagined, after school, her mother would say, you know: “How was your day, sweetie?” and she’d say, “Oh, fine.”  And her mother would say, “Making any friends?” and she’d go, “Sure, lots.”

Sometimes I’d see her hanging around alone in her front yard, as if afraid to leave it.

And then – they moved.  That was it.  No tragedy, no big final hazing.

One day she was there, next day she wasn’t.

End of story.

Now, why do I regret that?  Why, forty-two years later, am I still thinking about it?  Relative to most of the other kids, I was actually pretty nice to her.  I never said an unkind word to her.  In fact, I sometimes even (mildly) defended her.

But still.  It bothers me.”

The reason that story impacted me so strongly was because of something I did, it was 45 years ago, and I still regret it.  A boy wrote me a poem when I was 9 or 10 years old. And I laughed at him, then I read it aloud to a group of my girl friends, and we all laughed at him together.  I never forgot it.  And when I remember it, I still get a knot in my throat and a pain in my heart, even all these years later.  I can also still remember how I felt at that age, so uncomfortable in my own skin and afraid what others thought of me, that I looked for ways to fit in, and  ridiculing others was one way I thought I would fit in better. But even at that age, I knew what I was doing was unkind and I felt horrible doing it.

Luckily for me, this man is now a friend of mine on Facebook.  We don’t talk much, occasionally ‘like’ something the other has posted.  But I say luckily because I was able to message him with the link to the speech, and make an apology, 45 years too late, but still better late than never.  And this very kind man accepted the apology and we had a wonderful connection (well as wonderful a connection as one can have doing FB messaging.) Thank you William for your kindness and your willingness to forgive.

Please take the time to read the speech linked above, or you can even watch it on You Tube (although the quality is not great)

 

I also want to attach another You Tube clip, to help to remind us to Do It NOW.  This is a 2 minute video about how we spend our time, starkly shown in Jelly Beans. Our life goes by so quickly and we spend it doing things we probably won’t remember (or perhaps remember with regret as George Saunders reminds us.) So spend your time wisely. Do things you love for people you love. And Be Kind. Be Love. Be it Now!

 

 

Thank you for taking the time to stop by, I appreciate it.

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Be Kind Now!

”Our lives are not our own.  We are bound to others, past and present, and by each crime and every kindness we birth our future.”

– David Mitchell (Cloud Atas)


I watched an amazing movie last night with my sons, Lukas and Devin.  The movie is called Cloud Atlas – if you get a chance, it is well worth watching.  It’s a long, ambitious film – it has to be – since it’s based on the tome by David Mitchell.  Check out the trailer, even that is pretty epic!  At times it is confusing, but the main point comes through loud and clear – as our lives intersect, karma prevails, and one way or another our kindnesses or our cruelty come back to us. It is a bold and creative book/movie about karma, unity and connection.

I love the concept to Pay it Forward (another wonderful movie if you haven’t already seen it.) Practicing random acts of kindness makes such perfect sense to me. And even if we really don’t reincarnate, and even if karma does not prevail, paying it forward and being kind just feels good.  So how about we all just Be Kind Now! And with that in mind, I want to close with a wonderful video clip about paying it forward.  Enjoy!

I’d love to hear any stories of how you’ve experienced kindness being paid forward.  And as always, thank you for stopping by, I appreciate it.

If you cannot see anything beautiful about yourself – get a better mirror . . .

“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.”

– Dalai Lama


I still have tears in my eyes as I write this – having just read an article about another teen in NZ who committed suicide due to bullying.  The suicide rate among young males in New Zealand is the highest in the OECD.  It’s appalling! Where is the compassion? Is compassion among young people diminishing?  Can it be brought back?  Can it be taught? Some say that compassion cannot be taught, but I believe it can.  Recent studies seem to suggest that it can.

At the University of Virginia, Compassionate Care and Empathic Leadership Initiative — a lengthy, fancy name for a simple, purposeful way to teach kindness, usher resilience and nurture compassion — is seeding change in fertile ground.

It appears that compassion can be taught, according to an article in Huffington Post.

Voluteerism can lead to compassion, and educational institutions are a central pillar in fostering volunteerism among youth. Indeed, it appears that compassion can be taught, which means that today’s educational institutions carry greater social responsibility than ever.

Please take the time to watch this amazing video by a young man who was bullied.  Shane Koyczan took his pain and created something mesmerizing.

To This Day,” is his spoken-word poem about bullying.

 

 

I’d love to hear what you thought about this YouTube video.  And as always, thank you for stopping by, I appreciate it.